From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The Trade Unions Congress (TUC) has asked President Bola Tinubu to suspend his plans to immediately remove subsidies on petroleum products, as announced during his inauguration on Monday.
TUC, in a statement signed by its President, Festus Osifo, and General Secretary, Nuhu Toro, said it expects the Tinubu’s government to be wise on such a sensitive issue and be more explicit in its pronouncement to avoid contradictory interpretation when comparing his written statement, what he said and the provision in 2023 appropriation act.
According to the TUC, fuel subsidy removal is a very delicate issue that touches on the lives, of citizens, especially workers hence ought to have been treated with the utmost caution, and should have been preceded by robust dialogue and consultation with, the representatives of the working people, including professionals, market people, students and the poor masses.
“Accordingly, we hereby demand that President Tinubu should tarry awhile to give room for robust dialogue and consultation and stakeholders engagement, just as he opined in his speech until all issues and questions – and there are a host of them! – to ensure that they are amicably considered and resolved. Nigerian Workers and masses must not be made to suffer the inefficiency of successive governments,” it stated.
TUC also expressed worries that in his speech, the new President failed to delve into or reveal his plans on how to tackle and address the issue of poor and unchecked deterioration in industrial relations, particularly in the education, health and judiciary sectors, often resulting in the prolonged strike and Industrial actions and their attendant adverse effects on society and the economy.
“ A case in point is the current nationwide strike by JOHESU. If there was anything for the administration to hurriedly address from day one in office, it’s the abysmal N30,000 minimum wage that has since been eroded by the problematic monetary and fiscal policies of the government.
“The Labour Movement is open and ready to dialogue with the Tinubu administration on the fuel subsidy issue and we urge it in the interest of the country and its people not to dictate on such a matter or engage in manipulating the outcome of such consultations.
“The TUC identifies with the new government’s declaration that it will defend the nation from terror and all forms of criminality that threaten peace and stability. We suggest that in its promised review of our security architecture, a more robust method of defending the country by involving the mass of the people and empowering them to defend themselves when attacked by bandits and terrorists.
“We also are encouraged by the new government’s promise to engage in job creation, food security and end extreme poverty. In this, we urge it to involve organized labour, employers of labour, professional organisations and the informal sector. This is necessary so that these programmes would not become mere propaganda in which unverifiable statistics would be churned out periodically.
Congress welcomes the promise to make electricity accessible and affordable to businesses and homes and, suggests that the Tinubu government begins by stopping the periodic arbitrary increases in the price of electricity imposed by the distribution companies while regulatory and consumer agencies look away.
It said the new administration cannot be seen to be speaking from both sides of its mouth, and urged Tinubu to be a president with a human face.
“Like always, we will stand by the people and their interests. Nigerian workers are hardworking and have remained consistent with productive work regardless of harsh government policies, poor governance and mismanagement of resources that have placed us under difficult living conditions,” the statement added.